Coping mechanisms are not always your friend

Most love songs are codependent and problematic. Not to sound anti-romance. I’m not. I would venture that I am real-world romantic. I find romance in the every day. The surprise pastry purchased because it was thought I would enjoy it. The extra tight hug after not seeing someone you love for a while. Being someone’s confidant. The true comfort of being yourself- weird quirks and all. The honesty of observations that are difficult to hear. Love is a verb. It is small actions, often taken for granted.

For years, I longed for the unhealthy ideals wrapped up in beautiful melodies. I fantasized of a love that would finally make me feel complete. Allow me to see myself through their eyes. To love myself because I was loved. I never found it.

What I found was codependency. Unbalanced caretaker roles. Undue responsibility.

I think all of this is swirling in my head because there is a song Moose loves, therefore it is in our circulation. The chorus is that she will love like she’s never been hurt. It’s a beautiful thought, though unrealistic. Moreover, I think that is a love I don’t want. Hear me out.

I am a flawed human. I carry trauma within me- just like everyone else. Our emotional scars aren’t physical for all to see. They are buried. Sometimes even from ourselves. I don’t want to pretend that past didn’t happen. I don’t want to ignore the scars. I don’t want someone to love me in spite of that past- the experiences that made me the woman I am today. I want them to love me. Period. No caveats. To extend grace in the moments those unhealthy behaviors unearth. To allow me room to learn. To grow. To love me because of those abilities.

We all dream of unconditional love. The type of relationship- platonic or otherwise- that encompasses forgiveness. Compassion. Unfortunatly, in my experience, conditional love is more common. It slowly slashes at your soul. Leaving gashes that cannot be bandaged. No emergency room to visit.

In my search for unconditional love I have over compensated. I failed to set boundaries for fear of driving someone away. Made excuses for subpar treatment. Internalized far more than was mine to carry. Over the last four years, I have grown. I have learned that boundaries are healthy- from both sides. That the truest forms of love are harsh truths wrapped in compassion. The desire to work through a problem versus ignoring it’s existence until it grows unbearable.

It has come to my attention, that I am a bit of an overthinker. Ha! This is something that can be deduced shortly after meeting me. However, through a perception mentioned to me recently, I realized that I cause myself undue stress due to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

When my marriage ended, it was abrupt. I was left feeling foolish. Stupid. Blind. Unlovable. Since then, I have completed quite a bit of therapy. I have learned a lot. Developed through a lot. Except for my fear of feeling foolish again. Still a bit afraid I am only worthy of conditional love.

The coping mechanism I have developed goes hand in hand with overthinking. I am perpetually searching for the smallest of clues that people are no longer interested with me in their life. Signs that a relationship has run it course in order to prepare myself. To take it in stride. Not allow myself to be taken off guard. To not be a fool. Believing that a storm can be anticipated and diluted. It is sabotage. Massively unhealthy. And exhausting.

I have been blessed to cultivate a life with amazing, genuine people. And they love me. Truly, unconditionally love me. My loud laughter. My empathetic nature. My sensitivity that I try so very hard to hide. My inability to stop buying them trinkets. All of the peccadillos that make me who I am. Yet, I have been unable to allow myself to fully trust it. To end the pursuit of indications their love is waning. To stop preparing myself for the other shoe to drop.

The things is, I finally want to. I want to drop my ill conceived defenses. Run the risk of being hurt to allow the unabashed happiness in. To trust in the same way I love- unconditionally.

It will be a work in progress. Unfortunately, nothing worth doing happens instantly. I will stumble. I will fall into old habits. But I will also learn. I will allow myself the comfort of knowing that someone’s love for me can withstand imperfection. Mistakes. Irritation.

My brain unceasingly tries to prepare me for failure. For heartache and disappointment. But what if the opposite happens? What if it works out? I’d like to learn to prepare for that instead.

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